People rarely get second chances. When we make a serious mistake we seldom get an opportunity for a do-over. Those we have hurt will remember our transgressions for a long time. Maybe forever.
Published accounts remind us of the agony of former prisoners and rehabilitated drug addicts who are denied jobs, housing and other services on account of past convictions. They want desperately to clear their records of past crimes however minor these might seem. They want to take a path towards a new start that will help them improve their circumstances.
Quite simply, they need a second chance. They want to have a shot at a normal life.
But there are conditions attached to the privilege of being bestowed a second chance. Offenders must take full responsibility for their actions and honestly regret what they have done.
Islam's concept of taubat (repentance) states that wrongdoers must demonstrate sincere remorse, sorrow and guilt, promise not to repeat their mistakes and do good deeds as Allah has instructed.
Against that backdrop, should Malaysian society give the bogus dentist in Malacca -- who practised dentistry after watching YouTube tutorials -- a second chance?
The Sessions Court in Melaka had slapped a fine of RM70,000 on Nur Farahanis Ezatty Adli on Sept 29, 2017 for running an unregistered private dental clinic, an offence under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which carries a maximum fine of RM300,000 or maximum jail of six years or both upon conviction.
However, she was released from prison after serving only six days out of her six-month jail term for failing to pay the fine, thanks to supporters who had raised enough money to settle the penalty.
What are we to make of the fundraising campaign mounted by supporters including well known NGOs to keep Nur Farahanis out of jail?
Obviously, they believe she does not need to serve her prison sentence. Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia's lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan had said that Nur Farahanis, 20, was an intelligent woman who was merely helping to fix simple braces on her friends based on what she had learned from Youtube.
He was quoted as saying that "we need to help her and we also believe that there are some good reasons for us to help her".
"I do not want to say that the charge was unfair. We feel that we should try to help someone who is trying to free herself from poverty and challenges of life," he said.
The Muslim consumer body felt that she should be given another chance since she was still young and had no prior convictions.
It later clarified its position on the issue.
It is hard to imagine giving cheats and others of a similar ilk a new lease on life but psychologists say forgiveness is fundamental to human relationships. Yet we find it hard to make allowances for offenders and give them breaks to make up for past wrongs.
In the case of the bogus dentist the task is made harder by her unrepentant behaviour, if media reports are anything to go by. There is a suggestion that her actions were "not normal".
This is a serious matter that we should reflect on carefully. Quacks attract vulnerable and ill-informed patients by offering cut-rate prices for inferior dental care.
The authorities must do more to prevent people from falling for the lies and deceit of quack dentistry, medicine and pseudoscience.